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Sochi Inventory Management: An Olympic Feat of Logistics
With the 2014 Sochi Olympics behind us, it's easy to forget so many other things that happened behind the scenes to make the games go off (mostly) without a hitch. Acts of logistical greatness happened as cargo and freight arrived at the venues. Pallets were filled with sports equipment for the Olympic and Paralympic teams. Game equipment was shipped to set up the sports venues. Broadcasting equipment was flown into televise the games; awards, gifts, food and many other items appeared in Sochi in throngs and just as quickly disappeared.
Besides playing the games, there were also the opening and closing ceremonies, which are engineering masterpieces of global proportions. How do organizers get all the parts and equipment there to set up the ceremonies, and how do they take down everything so quickly to start the games? It all relies on a good, old-fashioned "just in time" (JIT) strategy.
Global Logistics Planning Starts Years In Advance
To handle the large numbers of goods entering Russia, warehousing and distribution strategies are set up years in advance so countries around the world can begin sending inventory to the host city. Third-party logistics companies completed the documentation to have the inventory comply with regulations set up by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, according to the Sochi 2014 Customs and Freights Forward Guide.
Once all shipping documents were in order, pallets of freight were sent by ship as they must pass through customs before being loaded onto Russian railways and taken to two different support venues: the Main Distribution Center to house all Olympic game-related goods and the IBC Warehouse for broadcasting equipment.
Setting Up for the Main Event
The Main Distribution Center was the hub of the logistics operations for the Sochi 2014 Olympics. All equipment and goods for the opening and closing ceremonies were shipped by truck to the Fisht Olympic stadium, where the opening ceremonies were held. Those trucks could only deliver shipments during certain delivery window times to reduce traffic congestion.
This is when "just in time" inventory strategies come into play. JIT happens when goods and equipment are shipped only when needed for the production process. As organizers built the stage, work orders and shipping documents were sent to the Main Distribution Center. The trucks then drove to the venue during the delivery time windows and each pallet was screened to ensure it is the right item to be delivered. Volunteers working with the engineers followed precise building instructions for the stage; equipment that was no longer needed was sent back to the Main Distribution Center.
For the London 2012 Summer Olympics, it took 10 weeks to load all the freight to the stadium. Engineers took extensive planning and set-up measures to build the stage for the opening ceremonies, communicating with the technical team that followed a set procedure to dismantle the stage in-between acts and set up a different theme all while the opening ceremony took place, according to The Engineer. At the end of the opening ceremony, it took 60 hours to dismantle the stage.
JIT inventory strategies streamlined the logistics process, simplifying the delivery of goods to venues that had limited capacity to store equipment and goods. All this inventory planning and freight management happened behind the scenes of the Olympics.